How to test drive a Used Car like an Expert?

It is a mandate that you test drive a used vehicle before you buy it. Only go for a test drive if you are really interested in buying that car. If not, go through our tips to buy a used car and the pros and cons of buying a used car to know how to select a used car.

The test drive gives you a first-hand experience of what you have chosen to drive. It can also give away any unspecified/hidden problems within the car. But before you can get your hands on the car, you must pre-inspect the car.

Pre-Car Inspection

It is necessary to inspect the used car that you have finalized on. This inspection will help you identify any duped cars, easily. Check the car’s exteriors, car’s interiors, and under the hood in well-lit conditions, preferably on a bright sunny day or in a well-lit garage.


  • Check the paint job- Any colour differences in the body of the car (usually the bolts and joints will give away repaints) may indicate repaint
  • Check for rust- If the car has withstood floods or much rain, rust will show up at the edges and underbody.
  • Check for dents or body repair works- Almost all cars face dents on the bumpers or on the sides. Over the years these might increase, and you should easily be able to identify these with the help of a torchlight. Welding joints or smoothened punch holes will reveal major body works on the car


  • Check the odometer levels and match them with service or maintenance records. Ensure that the odometer levels are not tampered.
  • Check all electronic components and their working conditions. Play around with the buttons until you are satisfied. Check the seats and upholstery for wear and tear.

Under the hood:

  • Check all the bolts. If the bolts have scratch marks or paint removed, then it suggests that the part has been replaced or repaired.
  • Check the engine and brake oil levels
  • Check for rodent excreta, hair or smell. A hint of these may suggest damages to the wirings.
  • Check if the clutch wire is loose enough and has space to move properly

Once you get your inspection done and you are happy with your results, move in for the test drive.

The Test Drive!

Acceleration, braking and turning capabilities of the car must be checked during the test drive in both regular city conditions and highway conditions. Select sections of roads which have many bumps and curves. Ensure you test the car to its maximum potential in every area.

Tip: If you have decided on a used car, take a new version of the same car for a ride, before test driving the used car

The Highway Check!

Take frequents stops and go. Tread the car through bumpy road patches. Take turns on the go at both slow and fast speeds. To check the RPM, drive at top gear and at overdrive. Downshift the car at a cruising speed and check the cruise control of the car. The highway ride should be smooth, controlled and comfortable, giving you a solid feel.

The City Check!

Like driving in a highway, take frequent stops as you go. Prefer bumpy roads to check the suspension. Also take sharp turns. Gear shifting should be smooth and crisp with no slipping. Vibrations or noises (thuds, whines, squeaks) during the drive spell problems in the car. Overall, if you have a good feel while driving the car in a city, the car will pass the city check.

Below is the guide on how to test the three basic capabilities of the car in highways and cities:

The Acceleration Test:

Acceleration should always be smooth with no knocks or hesitation from the car. Select a straightway with no turns. Accelerate the car from stand-still to its top speed. This allows you to check how smooth the car accelerates from zero. The car might vibrate a bit at the higher speeds, which is completely fine. But any vibrations or sounds at lower speeds may indicate some issues. The ride should be smooth, knock-free with no hesitations.

The Turning Test:

When the car is stationary, turn the steering wheel lock-to-lock. Meaning, turn completely to the left or right until the steering wheel locks. While moving, turn back and forth in motion to sway the car. Check for knocks or squeaks. Also perform a 360-degree turn in both directions and check for noise and feel both ways. Perform hard and controlled turns while moving and check for squeaks or knocks.

The Braking Test:

In general, braking should be smooth with no pulls or vibrations. Try braking at regular speeds (regular braking) and at high speeds (hard braking). While hard braking try to activate the ABS. If there are any issues, the ABS light on the dashboard will turn on. Any signs of noise or pulling in the car while braking will give away underlying problems.

In addition to the test drive, listen carefully to the talk from the seller or dealer. Any of the below may smell trouble and concealment. Always refuse the below

  1. Limited time test drives
  2. Car should be driven only in the surrounding or predestined routes
  3. Selling customisations: Anything apart from factory set parts are modifications and might affect the car’s aerodynamic design, yielding in poor drive and efficiencies.

The above guide should help you choose the right car and above all give you the satisfaction that you have checked the car to the fullest.

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